Interesting article from Wired magazine: You Play World of Warcraft? You’re Hired!

[Stephen Gillett] accepted Yahoo!’s offer and now works there as senior director of engineering operations. “I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done,” he says. “Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task.” His story – translating experience in the virtual world into success in the real one – is bound to become more common as the gaming audience explodes and gameplay becomes more sophisticated. The day may not be far off when companies receive résumés that include a line reading “level 60 tauren shaman in
World of Warcraft.”

I found this poking around online for articles related to the Warcraft games. I had the idea that for my linguistics paper this quarter maybe I could write about stereotyped language in computer games (think the ‘rastafarian’ trolls in the Warcraft games). Dunno if it’ll pan out, but I’ve had a fun time playing with the Warcraft III sound editor. Anyway, it’d be cool if I could find some way to write my WIM paper on something gaming-related, and there are actually quite a number of possible approaches. Aside from computer games, there’s language in roleplaying games(duh), and the sociolinguistic take on language use within “communities of practice” (gamers, in this case). If anyone has any other cool ideas or observations about gamer/gaming-related language I’d love to hear them!

Comments 2

  1. zaldreon wrote:

    Well, some of the gaming-related linguistic matters which have most interested me, personally, are the terms and concepts which relate to game structure and design. We speak of “dramatist,” “simulationist,” and “gamist” features of RPGs, for instance. We discuss “game balance,” referring to the viability of different sides’ victory conditions or abilities, as well as “game balance” in the sense of whether the game in general skews toward offense or defense, or toward one particular strategy. Similarly, we regard parts of games as “broken” if they become very important strategic elements, but only in certain cases (when we don’t want those features to be so important). We consider an RPG’s “probability distribution” – for instance, whether it uses enough dice for most action rolls to approximate a bell curve with respect to levels of success. (It’s not technically a gamer term, but it is a term you don’t normally hear in everyday life.) There are a number of other phrases which seem familiar to us, but are rather odd if you think about what the words actually mean… “genre breaking,” “out of character,” “player character,” and even my own concoction, “saved state system.”

    I sometimes wonder about the formation of terms like these and the extent to which they facilitate discussion of game design matters. My hunch is that they do a lot to accelerate the conveyance of meaning, but I don’t have any good way to back that up.

    A survey of the use of “stereotyped language” in computer games, such as the Warcraft trolls, could also be interesting. That might benefit from a fairly extensive review of a lot of different games involving voice acting. Different computer games treat this in very different ways. The voices in Starcraft are nothing like the voices in Baldur’s Gate II- they serve different purposes (RTS acknowledgments versus plot advancement / character development) and they are done with very dissimilar pools of voice actors using different sorts of emotional content.

    Anyway, those are some things which jumped out at me. Good luck choosing a topic.

    Posted 26 Apr 2006 at 23:59
  2. prismakaos wrote:

    there’s also the evolution of language, which is a little bit away from what you’re looking at but may also be interesting. in the beginning of adventure computer games, all was text (think zork, adventure, wishbringer, etc). the language you used had to be precise to describe the situation and provide clues for the players to figure out what they needed to do. as games changed, the focus became more on incorporating the player, as opposed to making them a 3rd person observer (hence the success of first person shooters and other various games like that), so the language in the game could be made more colloquial. Because the games then shifted focus onto the players, so they really became part of the world, ie, any multiuser dungeon, the language background could become less and less, until nearly all of the language in a game is what other users say, and not the game itself.

    in terms of games that aren’t online, designers now must create them so it seems as if you were online with other people (development of AI). using jeff’s example of baldur’s gate, the AI of the other party members had to be good, otherwise, you got really really bored with what they were saying. or even in starcraft, where you’re playing against the computer – but if you went online, it feels almost exactly the same. in that sense, i guess what language is chosen is more important in adventure or rpg games (has anyone figured out the difference between these two genres anyway?), as in these games, you need to advance the plot.

    also, aliens/using alien language to further the environment of a game, which not precisely linguistics, might be a jumping off point for looking at language as environment, which is what i think i’ve been trying to say. This comment’s really incoherent, and I apologize.

    Posted 27 Apr 2006 at 01:03

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